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best practices to prevent sports injuries

Training Intelligently: How Athletes can Protect their Bodies from Injury

Jun 4, 2021

Sports injuries are very common among athletes. While the number of athletes injured each year is difficult to calculate, it is estimated to be at least one-third (33 percent) every year, with some estimates suggesting as high as 90 percent of student-athletes have experienced some sort of sports-related injury. Given these percentages, preventing sports injuries is a critical element of every athlete’s learning.
Read on to learn how to train intelligently to protect your body from injury.

Causes of Sports Injuries
While there are many physical causes of sports injuries, including twisting, rapid deceleration, overuse, overloading, and many more, while these terms may describe the physical event that results in a sports injury, the actual causes often occur much earlier.

Recognizing these earlier causes, and knowing how to prevent them, can make the need for sports injury treatment much less likely.
Causes of Sports Injury and How to Prevent It:

●      Incorrect warm-up or stretching before a sporting event or exercise.

○      Develop and always follow proper warm-up techniques. Never skimp on warm-up.

●      Wearing improper sporting gear.

○      Always ensure you have all of the proper protective gear, and it fits correctly, whether this is a football helmet or running sneakers.

●      Being in poor health.

○      Anytime you are sick or do not feel 100%, avoid pushing yourself. Your body is already under stress and at higher risk of injury.

●      Improper or poor training practices.

○      If you don’t know what an appropriate training routine is, ask your sports injury doctor.

●      Improper cool-down after activity.

○      Always spend the same time you spent warming-up in cooling-down. Don’t overlook this important part of injury prevention.

●      Not consuming enough fluids. Dehydration.

○      Don’t be lazy about your fluid intake. Drink plenty of water or a sports drink to stay hydrated at all times.

●      Ignoring “minor” injuries with minimal pain.

○      Ignoring your body’s signals can result in a minor injury worsening. If you’re unsure, consult a sports injury doctor near you.

Some of these causes and preventions may be obvious, but many athletes are guilty of ignoring one or more of these prevention techniques. Then, when a sports injury occurs, they do not look at the big picture to see what they may have been ignoring that could have contributed to the injury.

Instead, it is attributed to landing wrong or twisting too much. Whether any of these actions will lead to an injury depends, at least in part, on how healthy your body is. Athletes need to follow best practices for one’s activity.

Best Practices to Prevent Sports Injuries
From warmups to cooldowns, it is important to prevent injuries every step of the way.

Warm-Up Exercises
When playing sports, treatment before the actual activity should never be overlooked. Science has studied various warm-up routines to determine if they are all the same. They are not.
While it has been shown that proper warm-up exercises are the most important activity an athlete can do to improve her performance, doing the correct warm-up exercise is vital.
Many athletes engage in static stretching exercises before their activities, and this can be helpful and necessary for certain activities such as gymnastics or ballet dancing.
However, studies have proven that static stretching may weaken overall athletic performance. While this will not necessarily important to the ballet dancer, it can be critical to the sprinters’ success.
For most athletes, static stretches should be replaced with dynamic stretching, which gradually increases the range of motion while moving muscle groups. Arm circles are a good example of dynamic stretching. As one continues to rotate the arms, one gradually increases the speed. So, muscle stretching still occurs, but the movement that accompanies the stretching makes a substantial difference in the athlete’s ability post-warm-up.

Sports and Protective Equipment
Of course, the appropriate protective equipment depends on the sport in which one is participating.
While practicing on the balance beam it is important to wear the appropriate clothing, just as it’s important to wear the proper protective gear in a hockey rink.
Each sport sets its standards for minimal safety equipment, and every athlete needs to  know what is expected regarding safety equipment.
For example, common protective equipment to protect from sports injuries includes:

●      Helmets

●      Eyewear

●      Mouthguards

●      Face protection

●      Jockstraps

●      Life jackets

●      Safety mats

●      Body pads and guards

●      Proper sneakers or shoes

Some of these items are quite specific. For example, any sport not involving water on a lake or river would not require a life jacket. Other items are beneficial for nearly any athlete, such as protective eyewear and breathable clothing. Additionally, when playing sports, orthopedic sneakers are necessary and helpful in practically every sport.

Final Thoughts on Preventing Sports Injuries
Using proper protective equipment and appropriate and adequate warm-up and cool-down sessions contributes significantly to reducing sports injuries. Yet, there is more to be done as when one is injured playing sports; treatment is critical to ensure that a minor injury does not become worse.

Sometimes at-home treatment is sufficient if the athlete is confident that the injury is not severe and the proper at-home treatment is recognized and administered.
In many cases, however, an athlete's belief that an injury can be remedied with at-home treatment is nothing more than a dream.
Seeking an expert in sports injuries, such as a sports medicine or sports injury surgeon, is often the best approach. Physicians and surgeons will not recommend treatments that are not necessary. If at-home management is the best approach, the athlete will be instructed on what to do.
Finding the best care becomes very important. For athletes in the Tristate area near New Jersey, the choice is simple. The Orthopedic Institute of New Jersey (OINJ), with 7 locations and 24 practitioners, provides the best sports treatment anywhere. Several locations have urgent care facilities should you need to be evaluated the same day.

Contact OINJ today for more information or to schedule an appointment.


This article was reviewed and approved by an orthopedic surgeon as we place a high premium on accuracy for our patients and potential patients.